CACS Releases 2010 Election Spending Report

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Over $358 million spent on California campaigns.

California Common Sense is a non-partisan non-profit founded by Stanford students and alumni to open government to the public, develop data-driven policy analysis, and catalyze a grassroots movement for effective governance.

California Common Sense (http://www.cacs.org) released a report detailing donations to California political races in the 2010 elections. The report was written by CACS researcher Sydney Evans. 2010 was the most expensive election cycle in California’s history. Individuals, corporations, trade associations, unions and political/interest/advocacy groups (PIAs) contributed a total of $358,173,393.

Among Assembly races, Democratic candidates outnumbered Republican candidates 94 to 58 and fundraising strongly favored Democratic candidates. Democrats received 93% of union donations, 80% of PIA donations, 75% of trade association donations, and 70% of corporate donations.

Among Senate races, Democratic candidates outnumbered Republican candidates 19 to 14 and out-raised Republicans by more than a 3:1 ratio. Democrats received 92% of all union donations, 88% of trade association donations, 80% of PIA donations, and 70% of corporate donations.

The equal number of Democratic and Republican candidates in Constitutional races illustrates Democrats’ ability to out-raise Republicans among unions, trade associations, and PIAs. However, when self-funding donations over $10 million are included, Republicans out-raised Democrats in Constitutional races – $206,658,030 to $82,043,094. More funds were contributed to the gubernatorial race than any race in California election history with $291,138,656 being contributed.

Unions were the largest donor type to Democrats, who received 97% of the union donations in Constitutional races. PIAs were the next largest donor type to Democrats, who received 93% of PIA donations in Constitutional races.

Across all races, Democratic candidates outnumbered Republican candidates three to two, but Republicans raised more than twice as much as Democrats. This was largely due to the self-funding of Republican gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. Whitman and Poizner together accounted for 65% of the total individual contributions in 2010. When the personal donations of those two candidates are removed, Democratic candidates raised more than twice as much as Republicans. The next largest single donation was from Democrat Chris Kelly, who funded his own campaign for Attorney General.

The majority of donations – both in terms of sum total and number of transactions – came from individuals. A total of 73,067 individuals accounted for $256,554,456.91 in contributions. Excluding all self-funding donations greater than $10 million, Democrats received 1.23 times the total amount that Republicans received in personal donations.

The data underlying the report is publicly available through the California Secretary of State’s website. The individual transaction data was programmatically downloaded and classified. A data visualization can be found at http://cacs.org/visualization/view/id/1628.

ABOUT CACS | California Common Sense (http://www.cacs.org) is a non-partisan non-profit founded by Stanford students and alumni to open government to the public, develop data-driven policy analysis, and catalyze a grassroots movement for effective governance.

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Dakin Sloss
CACS
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